Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for.
The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
The selection process
The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.
The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below.
Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020
Adaptability and agility
Taking a pilot approach
The 2022 grants
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge.
In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school.
The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner.
The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community.
The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community.
The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations.
Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities.
The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities.
In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones.
The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant.
Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training.
The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach.
In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.
| Press release
Launch of ambitious partnership between IFRC and EU: a new model for the humanitarian sector
Brussels/Geneva, 30 March 2022 - An ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) launched today aims to be a new model for the humanitarian sector.
In response to the increasing number of crises arising worldwide, the pilot Programmatic Partnership “Accelerating Local Action in Humanitarian and Health Crises” aims to support local action in addressing humanitarian and health crises across at least 25 countries with a multi-year EU funding allocation.
The partnership strengthens mutual strategic priorities and is built around five pillars of intervention: disaster preparedness/risk management; epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response; humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move; cash and voucher assistance; risk communication, community engagement and accountability.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said:
“I welcome with great hope the Pilot Programmatic Partnership with IFRC, a trusted EU partner who shares our vision of implementing efficient and effective humanitarian aid operations worldwide. The funding allocated for this partnership reaffirms the EU commitment to help meet the growing needs of vulnerable people across some 25 countries, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. It also confirms our commitment to strategic partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations.”
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“Longer-term, strategic partnerships are essential to respond to the escalation of humanitarian crises around the world. We must respond rapidly, we must respond at scale, and we must modernize our approach to make impact. We know that the most effective and sustainable humanitarian support is that which is locally led, puts communities at the heart of the action, and is resourced through flexible, long-term and predictable partnership. The pilot Programmatic Partnership allows exactly that.”
The Programme will begin with an inception phase in several countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa and Yemen. The main objective is to provide essential assistance to those currently affected by humanitarian crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters and conflict and to prevent loss of lives and suffering. Investment is also made to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with disasters through the implementation of disaster preparedness and risk reduction components.
Working closely with its National Societies, the IFRC’s global reach combined with local action, its long history of community-driven humanitarian work and its Fundamental Principles, make it the partner of choice for this Pilot Programmatic Partnership with the EU.
Following the first phase of implementation, the Programme aims to expand its reach and include additional countries around the world with the support of more EU National Societies.
The 10 countries of implementation in the inception phase are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.
The seven National Societies from the EU working to support the implementation of the inception phase are: Belgian Red Cross (FR), Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross.
For more information
In Brussels: Federica Cuccia, [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924
Pilot Programmatic Partnership
The Pilot Programmatic Partnership (PPP) is an innovative and ambitious three-year partnership between the IFRC, many of our member National Societies, and the European Union. Together, we will support communities worldwide to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies.
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support
Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found.
Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do.
Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said:
“Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.”
The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said:
“Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.”
With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]
Yemen Red Crescent Society
Awareness Campaigns and Rumors’ Busting about COVID-19 Throughout All Governorates in Yemen
Randa El Ozeir: A group of people on the street flinched showing signs of apprehension and repulsion. They are Yemenis living in a remote area where volunteers, from the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) in their protective masks, put informative posters as part of a comprehensive awareness campaign about COVID-19. The group of people was scared to contract the “disease” from these masked individuals. Little by little, the group of people bombarded the volunteers with questions, and their eyes brightened with an “aha moment!” when they learned the answers.Once again, it becomes clear how local actors and volunteers play an invaluable role in communities they know like the back of their hands. They speak the language, are familiar with the traditions, and recognize the prevailing mindset. Zamzam Saleh Saed Jaeem, the Deputy Communications manager in YRC’s Dhamar Branch, said, “There were rumors that made some people flinch when they saw us wearing masks, as if we were sick and contagious! But we stood our ground and persevered in identifying for them the wrong practices and correcting their misinformation, so they ended up helping us to put up the posters!”.In Yemen, a country affected by war for over five years, the YRCS has been one of the few humanitarian organizations to freely continue executing its activities and missions all over the country doing what they most excel at: humanitarian support for communities affected by conflict and natural disasters, medical services especially for women and children, nutrition aids, prevention campaigns to tackle the risks of diseases as cholera and malaria, and lately, societal awareness through field campaigns around the country’s 22 governorates to stave off the dangers of COVID-19. These campaigns are implemented by the Heads of Communications in the YRC’s Branches, accompanied by the ambulance drivers and 44 volunteers, through posters and by playing recorded messages with preventive measures.Nisrine Ahmed, the YRC’s Media Officer, said, “Before setting out to implement an activity, a coordination with all authorities in the country has to be done to commence a field awareness campaign directly with the people as to bridge the gap in all rugged locations. The geographical nature, ranging from mountains to deserts, coasts, and frontiers, has been aggravated by the poor phone and internet coverage and the unreliable electricity and made these places unattainable. Ultimately, the coordination to carry out the activity becomes centralized with the local authority at the governorate level”.In an innovative way revealing a deep understanding of the local environment, the YRCS worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross to produce audio flashes containing simplified awareness messages people can incorporate into their daily lives to smoothly change their behaviours. Some of these messages promote “using hand sanitizers”, “protecting your own food during COVID-19”, “how to keep yourself and your family safe”, “how to protect yourself and others”, “what to do when you start having symptoms”, and “when to wear a mask”.Nisrine Ahmed explained how the messages are being delivered via portable loudspeakers on ambulances that roam the districts and neighbourhoods of secluded areas within each governorate. “We are distributing in 10 communities the flyers and posters consisting of crucial info about COVID-19, its transmission, and the ways to prevent it”.The YRC focuses on 440 areas across Yemen but does not go door-to-door. The awareness messages are broadcasted on loudspeakers and disseminated by posters. Only when faced with specific inquires, the Heads of Communications in the YRC’s Branches explain the content about COVID-19 face-to-face. “Those volunteers train yearly on communication skills, community activities, and media on the ground to perform their communication duties within the Branches, but also they have been trained by health staff on COVID prevention and on frequently asked questions. They are competent enough to spread awareness, achieve media documentation, and do live interviews. We carry these awareness campaigns in coordination with the Danish Red Cross (DRC), the German Red Cross (GRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRD), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)”.“While they need the bare necessities for a normal life, it’s hard to ask people to stay home and stick to the recommended safety measures to prevent COVID-19”, said Jaeem adding, “people don’t have money to buy a mask or gloves to use when they go outside. We encountered a tuned-out society when we first started. We were met with obstacles to persuade the population and change their ideas about the virus. We raised the level of awareness among people and helped them. And we consider this to be an accomplishment in and of itself”.“As usual, we see the YRCS present and giving the most important info that helped us to correct some of the misconceptions about COVID-19. Our situation is dire, and we need protective equipment that we cannot buy. We don’t have water, and when we have it, it can barely suffice for drinking, so how should we can be careful to wash our hands regularly?”, asked Ahmed, a resident of a remote area, and called on everyone to provide the required aids along with spreading awareness about the virus.General Background: The Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) is an independent voluntary relief organization. It was founded half a century ago, in 1968, for humanitarian purposes. YRCS works as an aid organization in the domains of humanitarian services across the country, and practices its activities according to the Yemeni Constitution, Geneva Conventions, and the basic principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that YRCS performs its activities as part of them.
Yemen’s Healthcare System on the Brink of Collapse
Text and photos: Julie Lorenzen, Danish Red CrossHis brown eyes look tired – almost absent – and the skin is way too pale. He speaks with a voice that is difficult to hear.Nine-year-old Luai and his mother are visiting a primary health clinic, run by Yemen Red Crescent Society in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.Luai has been sick for a while with a fever that shows no sign of abating.“His body is weak. He was fine, when he was little, but then his body started to weaken. I am worried, he cannot fight diseases,” says his mother Fatima.Doctor Anisha examines the little boy and it does not take her long to conclude that he is malnourished and has anemia. There is also a risk that Luai is suffering from internal parasites, a condition common in many Yemeni children.Doctor Anisha prescribes iron and multivitamins. That is all she can do.But this visit to the clinic is a short-term solution. When Luai goes home, his parents can only afford to buy rice and bread because of the sky rocketing food prices in Sanaa. Vegetables are a luxury the family can only afford once a month - like so many other Yemeni families who suffer from the impacts of the 5-year long conflict.Lack of medicine and doctorsAccording to doctor Anisha who has worked in the clinic for 17 years, Luai’s story is sadly familiar.“Five years ago, we did not see many cases of malnutrition”, she says.“But now there are cases in all health clinics around the country. I am worried because it affects their ability to learn in school. We only see the mild cases in this clinic.”Doctor Anisha also sees many malnourished pregnant women which can lead to complications like low birth weight and premature births.According to UN OCHA 3,2 million women and children in Yemen are acutely malnourished - the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition has increased by 90% in the last three years.And it is not only malnutrition the children suffer from.“We see that diseases like measles, diphtheria and chicken pox have returned. They were not present before the conflict,” says doctor Anisha.She used to vaccinate the children, but the clinic can no longer provide this vital service. The vaccinations need to be stored in a cold place, but because of the lack of electricity and fuel, this is no longer an option.It is the same story with the X-ray machine which has not been working since the beginning of the conflict. And the ultrasound scanner has been silent for the last year, since the clinic cannot afford to pay salary to an ultrasound doctor who can operate it.Doctor Anisha is the only doctor to help the approximately 40 patients who come to the clinic every day.“We need more doctors and nurses in the clinic,” she says, adding:“And we need medicine to treat patients with hypertension and diabetes. We can check their blood pressure and blood sugar, but we cannot give them medicine. Medicine is the most important.”The clinic has a laboratory, but currently they cannot carry out liver, kidney and cholesterol tests because of lack of equipment. Today it is free for the patients to get tests done in the laboratory, but in the future, the clinic might be forced to demand payment.It is not going to be easy for the patients.“Our patients are poor,” says doctor Anisha.Stay and risk your own lifeMany doctors and nurses have fled from the conflict in Yemen. But not Doctor Anisha.“The future is horrible. If you stay here, you are killing yourself. But I stay and do my best. I cannot leave my patients here. I would feel bad, if they came and asked for me, and I wasn’t there.”“We help people the best we can.”According to UN OCHA an estimated 19.7 million people in Yemen lack access to basic healthcare.But only 51% of the health facilities are functioning.The Yemen Red Crescent Society currently runs 22 health facilities around the country.